Described as a "cure-all" wonder drug by some, snake oil by others - one thing is certain, we still have a lot to learn about CBD - but what does the science have to say on the subject? Does CBD help with anxiety?
Call it what you want, there's no disputing the hard evidence put forth by the many researchers around the globe; CBD works, and not just for anxiety it turns out - but many other diseases and disorders as well.
In this article, we'll explore the science behind CBD and its many benefits, as well as understanding how it can help you by addressing what's really behind the crippling anxiety you may be dealing with.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety, broadly speaking, is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. It can manifest from situations such as public speaking, stress over work or home life, and even become a chronic condition that can make everyday life near impossible to enjoy.
It can be so strong that it prevents you from taking action and manifests itself through physical and psychological symptoms such as:
- Chest pain and tightness
- Shortness of breath or hyperventilating
- Panic attacks
- Inability to concentrate or remember details
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Headaches and muscular pain
There are many different types of anxiety, and no real one size fits all solution for them. Many times, a combination of different methods and medications is needed to get it under control.
What different types of anxiety are there?
There are many different types of anxiety, but the most common forms are:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
This is when someone experiences excessive worry about something even when there is little or nothing to provoke it. They may find it hard to control their worries or stop thinking about them completely. Often they imagine the worst possible outcome, even though this is unlikely
When someone has panic attacks, they feel an overwhelming sense of fear accompanied by physical symptoms. The most common are chest pain, nausea, shakiness, a feeling of choking or smothering, tingling in the hands and fingers, lightheadedness and being easily fatigued.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Also known as PTSD, it's when someone experiences a shocking or scary event in which they were physically harmed or felt that their life was in danger. PTSD can cause flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety over everyday situations.
Social Anxiety Disorder
When people become anxious about certain situations where they are around other people and can lead to panic attacks. They fear being judged by others and may be afraid of doing something embarrassing or worrying that they will not live up to expectations.
Anxiety is actually a normal human emotion and response, but when it becomes a disorder, then many more problems can arise. Discussing them with your doctor or going to a specialist can help you get the right form of treatment before it becomes worse.
This stands for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and is a more severe form of anxiety. Someone with OCD might have obsessive, intrusive thoughts or images that make them feel anxious. They may also repeat routine behaviours to ease their anxiety, such as handwashing or doing things in a certain way to reduce the risk of something bad happening.
What is CBD?
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of many active compounds called cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant. It has become increasingly popular as a wellness supplement and medicinal ingredient due to its many health benefits, but without the psychoactive effect that THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) has.
CBD can be extracted from both marijuana and hemp plants and sold as CBD oil or in other forms like capsules or gummies. It is also often added to skincare because of its moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties.
How does it work?
CBD works by attaching to certain receptors in your body, called cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are located in your Endocannabinoid System.
These receptors help transmit signals around the body and can also regulate mood, pain perception, appetite, memory and more.
Cannabinoids are produced naturally in the body as well - called endogenous cannabinoids; the majority of CBD users supplement with cannabinoids like CBD to help keep their bodies healthy and running smoothly.
How does CBD help with anxiety?
As mentioned before, the Endocannabinoid System is responsible for regulating mood and stress responses.
Researchers that have studied CBD seem to think the reason it helps is that it alters our serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical produced by our bodies that is responsible for helping us feel relaxed, calm and happy.
Certain anti-anxiety medications work by regulating serotonin in this same way, making CBD a potentially great natural option to treat anxiety, rather than with medications.
Many people are choosing to use CBD as an alternative to prescription anxiety medications because it does not come with the same long list of side effects that those medications carry. It may still cause drowsiness in some people, but also has anti-anxiety and antioxidant properties which work together to relieve stress and promote overall wellness.
Benefits of CBD for anxiety
There are many benefits to CBD when it comes to combating anxiety.
First of all, CBD is non-psychoactive which means there is no potential for overdose or addiction - a massive issue when it comes to some prescribed anxiety medication.
Second, studies have shown that CBD can reduce stress by lowering the amount of cortisol in the body; cortisol regulates your body's fight-or-flight response to stress.
Third, it's also been proven to have positive effects on the brain, including increasing neurogenesis - some scientists believe this could help to treat certain anxiety disorders.
Dosage and side effects of CBD
There is no standard recognized dosage for CBD, as everyone's needs are different.
It is important that you start with a low dosage and work your way up until you find the right amount for you. This gives your body time to get used to the CBD, and also to adjust if need be.
Once you have found the right dosage, taking it every day to maintain its effects is recommended.
CBD has been shown to cause some side effects in some people including dry mouth, low blood pressure, dizziness or lightheadedness, headache, nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea.
It is advised to speak with a physician before starting CBD, as there is some potential medication interactions that may occur.
How to use CBD in your everyday life
Nowadays, you can go online in Canada or into any dispensary and have a wide range of CBD products to choose from.
There are CBD oils, gummies, capsules, CBD vape pens, topicals, even transdermal CBD patches that take the guesswork right out of it!
Choosing something that fits your lifestyle and is easy to use is key to keeping up a good routine with CBD.
Edibles like capsules and gummies are convenient and easy to take with you on the go, while oils with dropper bottles may be better suited for home use. Vaping CBD also offers a portable solution and is a fast-acting method you can use to help when anxiety strikes.
Final thoughts on the benefits of using CBD as a natural remedy for anxiety
Using CBD as a natural remedy for anxiety can be beneficial for those who prefer an alternative to prescribed medications, or those who find the side effects of some medications too hard to deal with.
CBD is considered generally safe to take by everyone and does not cause any drowsiness, though caution should be used if you are taking any other medication currently.
While we still have a long ways to go before we fully understand all the benefits of CBD, the research so far seems very promising for anxiety.